Existing Member?

The Dangerous Business of Going Out Your Door I am often tired of myself and I have a notion that by travel I can add to my personality and so change myself a little. I do not bring back from the journey quite the same self that I took. - W. Somerset Maugham

What, Where, Why, How?

UNITED KINGDOM | Sunday, 17 January 2016 | Views [588] | Comments [3]

I wanted to write earlier, but this week has been an emotional roller coaster, and I could not bring myself to put much into words. Who knew that following a dream could make one so sad, afraid, anxious, guilty, and full of self-doubt? I did not expect that. I expected jubilation and exhilaration, but it was much more difficult to tear myself away from the familiar than I ever expected. I started writing this while waiting in the London Heathrow airport, three-fourths of the way to my first destination of Lisbon, Portugal, where I finally had the time and the right frame of mind to write something. I'm finishing it up having newly arrived in my hostel in Lisbon. To start off, let me try to answer some of the questions I've been getting.


What are you doing?

The rough plan is to take a sabbatical from work for 3-6 months, then find a new job after that. During the 3-6 month sabbatical period, I will probably make multiple trips of 3-4 weeks each and return home in between. This is not the typical round-the-world backpacker approach, and it does add to the expense (more on that in the How section below), but it is the approach with which I am most comfortable. Not only does it allow me to travel, but also to have time to enjoy my home, get some other projects and goals accomplished, and still spend time with the love of my life, my husband, who will only be able to travel with me for a week or two during this time.


Where are you going?

I'll mostly be in Europe. I've been to most of western Europe, so I would like to focus more on southern and eastern Europe now. I know Europe is boring and expensive in the backpacker world, but again, I am not trying to follow the typical backpacker agenda. I am fond of Europe. I like bundling up and sitting in cafes. I like wandering around beautiful cities. I don't care for beaches or harsh sun or wearing shorts or sweating. I've been to some places in Asia and Southeast Asia already, so I don't plan to go there again during this trip, and I am unfortunately too scared to go to Africa or the Middle East right now. I hope to make it to one or two countries in Central and South America, but it all depends on the timing of friends being able to go with me or meet me there, as I don't feel comfortable going there by myself. 


Why are you doing this?

The short answer: It's something I've wanted to do for years and I have the opportunity to do it now.

The longer answer: Life is short and work is only one part of it. I suffer from chronic Wanderlust and Fernweh, and one or two weeks of vacation per year has not been enough to keep the symptoms under control. I have dreamed of doing this for years. I have decided it was irresponsible and unreasonable, and I've tried to forget it for years. I have failed to forget it. It always bubbles to the surface again and makes me miserable, no matter how often or how deeply I suppress it. It finally reached a critical point where I knew that I had to make a decision to either just do it or to truly forget it entirely. I chose the former because I do not believe that the latter was possible. I don't want to wait until retirement, possibly squandering the remaining days of my youth for a future that I am not guaranteed will come. I am not running away from life, but rather trying to live life to the fullest, with no regrets. By stepping out of my comfort zone, I hope to challenge and strengthen myself, to gain a wider perspective, to rejuvenate my soul, and to grow the senses of adventure and wonder that are neglected by the humdrum of the everyday. 

The really long answer: We'll have to meet and chat for that one. :)


How can you do this?

The How question can mean many different things, for example:

How can you go by yourself? / Aren't you scared?

I am scared at times, even very scared at times. I have decided not to go to certain destinations purely out of fear that the risk exceeded the benefit. With the European refugee situation and the growth of ISIS, the world in general and Europe in particular seem to be getting less safe and more scary by the day, especially for women, and especially for women traveling alone. But the idea of safety is relative. I hear Europeans saying they are afraid to come to the US because of all the guns and mass shootings they hear about. Fear paralyzes you into inaction and ignorance, which then continue to perpetuate the fear. I think the only way to combat fear is through action and education. I have not been able to completely overcome all of my fear, but I am making an effort. I have read lots of travel blogs, like www.wanderingwhy.com and www.nomadicmatt.com. I have gotten advice and reassurance from friends, some of whom have done this before me. Honestly, my confidence did not start to come back until I was on my first flight, then my travel instincts kicked in and I felt more calm than I have all week. I will certainly have to be careful and alert. I have taken precautions that I never previously thought would be necessary in Europe. But I am not a newbie to international travel, nor to traveling alone, and I am trying to combat the growing widespread paranoia that the whole world is simply too big and too scary to go out into. 

How can you leave your husband home alone? / Is your husband OK with this?

My husband has been amazing, and I am so thankful. He has seen me pining for far-off destinations and he has encouraged me to do this because he understands that it is something I need to do for myself. Despite his support, it has still not been an easy decision for me. I have felt selfish and guilty. I probably could not or would not have done it if he did not continuously reassure me that he would be OK and that he did not think I was being selfish. I am also lucky that he and I are both introverts who have a strong need for alone time. So yes, my husband is OK with it, and I am still working on not feeling like I have abandoned him. I have enlisted several friends to check on him and make sure he is watered and fed, so that helps. ;)

How can you afford this?

Well, I have not won the lottery nor come into an inheritance, and I do still have a large student loan debt. The four main ways that I can afford this are these: (1) I have been saving money into a travel/other fund for years, (2) I have always lived under my means, (3) My husband is still working to cover our normal expenses, and (4) I am doing this on a budget that is made possible by tons of research and a little travel hacking. I want to share some preliminary numbers from the first part of my trip to show that it is not as expensive as one might think. For all flight, other transportation, and accommodation expenses for 30 days of travel in four different countries, I have spent $1,200. That's an average of $40 per day. I will still have to add food and entertainment costs, and average in some supplies, but I am hoping to stay under $75 per day. I have spent the last couple of years racking up airline miles, so now I'm redeeming them. I'm staying in hostels which are much cheaper than hotels. I plan to use the kitchen in the hostels to make meals rather than eating out all the time. I will use public transportation instead of taxis, etc. There are loads of people out there who do this type of thing on much smaller budgets than this. I actually consider what I'm doing to be a sort of luxury backpacking. It does take time and effort to travel on a budget, but I am sharing this in the hope that I might spark an idea in someone else who had been thinking it was just too expensive. 


Well, enough about me! The next entries will be about the destinations. Stay tuned!

Tags: sabbatical, solo, travel



Yours is the first BLOG I've read and I give 5 stars. Enjoy yourself and be safe. We miss you too but are very proud to say we know the Traveling Adventerous Gail

  Teresa Lee and Sharon Honrine Jan 19, 2016 2:14 PM


Traveling alone is a bliss - you get to know places in your own pace, you stop or wander when you feel like it. And besides, you will make friends along the journey. Well done for taking this step and enjoy!

  BD Jan 21, 2016 8:57 AM


Thank you, Teresa, Sharon, and BD, for your encouraging messages! 💙

  wanderlustgail Jan 21, 2016 11:16 PM

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.

About wanderlustgail

Follow Me

Where I've been

Photo Galleries

My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about United Kingdom

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.